Greene King IPA Championship Round 18 Preview

02nd March 2016

Ealing Trailfinders struck a huge blow in the Greene King IPA Championship’s battle of the bottom last weekend – and they now go on search for some much-needed consistency away at Bedford Blues.

Ealing not only beat Moseley but beat them handsomely in Round 17, with a 55-15 bonus-point win – including four tries from winger Rhys Crane – enough to lift them two points above the West Midlands side.

But they're far from safe yet and now travel to a Blues side that snatched a 23-21 victory on Ealing's home turf back in October.

Bedford will be looking to strengthen their grip on a top four place after successive league defeats, though last time they won at home, London Welsh were the victims of a 64-20 loss
The Blues fell at the hands of Rotherham Titans by 39-31 last week – leaving the Yorkshire outfit also breathing a little easier as far as the bottom of the table is concerned.

Justin Burnell had an immediate impact in his first league game in charge, Matt Calladine scoring a try-double as Rotherham stopped a seven-game losing slump in the Championship.

It leaves the Titans in tenth but with a seven-point buffer on Ealing and, intriguingly, Burnell's next challenge is against his old club London Welsh.

The Exiles, who parted ways with Burnell after relegation from the Premiership last year, have been inconsistent this season but inflicted Jersey's first home loss in the league since October 23 last week.

That result represented a knockback in Jersey's top-four hopes but they could lay down a big marker should they beat fifth-place Nottingham this time around.

Nottingham and Jersey are nine points and 11 points behind fourth-place Yorkshire Carnegie respectively, meaning this week's clash could not be bigger for both sides.

Nottingham took the bragging rights at Jersey earlier this season in a slender 29-27 win – indeed four of their five last meetings have been settled by four points or fewer.

Bristol guaranteed their place in the play-offs with a statement-making victory at Yorkshire Carnegie, with Gavin Henson kicking six penalties in a 23-7 victory.

Now the target will be to ensure they remain top – with a ten-point advantage on second-place Doncaster Knights – starting against Cornish Pirates this Sunday.

Doncaster Knights did not have it all their own way against the Pirates last time out, but eventually emerged with a 26-19 triumph and maintained their 11-game unbeaten run in the league.

In order to make that streak 12 they must beat London Scottish away – last time the Knights played at the Richmond Athletic Ground, neither side could be separated in a 13-13 draw.

Elsewhere, Moseley will look to dust themselves off following last week's disappointment back at Billesley Common against Yorkshire Carnegie.

It should not be forgotten that Moseley beat Rotherham in their last home fixture with Greg Charlton scoring the crucial try in a 16-11 win.

But after losing to Bristol, Carnegie are very much wounded animals too and have racked up 178 points in their last four fixtures against Moseley.
Round 18 fixtures:
Friday 4th March:
Nottingham v Jersey, kick-off 7.45pm

Saturday 5th March:
London Welsh v Rotherham Titans, kick-off 2pm
Bedford Blues v Ealing Trailfinders, kick-off 3pm
London Scottish v Doncaster Knights, kick-off 3pm
Moseley v Yorkshire Carnegie, kick-off 3pm

Sunday 6th March:
Bristol Rugby v Cornish Pirates, kick-off 3pm

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